How are “Wrongful Death” Cases Handled in Kansas?
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s fault, you need legal help to make sure you receive fair compensation. There is nothing worse than having to talk to insurance companies while you are still bereaving your loss. Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law have decades of experience handling these cases and we can help you too! Read on to learn about these cases.
Wrongful Death vs Survival Claim Cases
“Wrongful death” is just one type of case when a person is lost due to someone else’s negligence. The other type of case is known as a “survival claim”, and this type of claim is pursued by the probate estate for the deceased to recover for the deceased’s medical bills, conscious pain and suffering, wage loss prior to death. The estate pursues these claims, stepping into the shoes of the deceased to get a recovery for the heirs.
Kansas Wrongful Death Laws
“Wrongful death” claims were created by Kansas statutes, under K.S.A. 60-1901 and the following statutes, and are meant to provide an actionable case to the “legal heirs” of the deceased. The first question is who are the “legal heirs”? This depends on marital status, and whether or not there are children. For a child, or an unmarried adult without children, the heirs are normally the parents. For a married adult without children, the heir is the spouse. For a married adult with children, the heirs are the spouse and the children. For a single adult with children, the heirs are the children. The most unfortunate aspect of this law is that the parents are not heirs when their child is married or has children. This is true even when their child is relatively young, or even still living at home or dependent upon the parents.
The damages recoverable for wrongful death pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1904 include:
- mental anguish
- suffering or bereavement
- loss of society, companionship, comfort or protection
- loss of marital care, attention, advice or counsel
- loss of filial care or attention
- loss of parental care, training, guidance or education
- reasonable funeral expenses
Pecuniary losses (actual out of pocket losses) are also recoverable for lost income, medical bills, and expenses for the care of the deceased caused by the injury. Nonpecuniary losses (abstract damages other than out of pocket losses like bereavement or mental anguish) are capped by law and the limit has been $250,000. These caps don’t apply to economic losses.
There are legal ways to get around the cap and these damages are known as Wentling damages. When a loved one is lost, the heirs lose the value of the deceased’s services. This can be quantified by experts. In other words, what was the economic value of having that person clean, cook, care for family, and other work around the family home?